It was all the way back in January that we exclusively reported that George Lucas' ideas for Star Wars: Episode 7 were ignored by J.J. Abrams and company, as the production decided to go in a different direction with what would wind up being Star Wars: The Force Awakens. But why was it exactly that the Star Wars creators notes were ignored? Apparently it was because the filmmaker wanted the story to focus on younger characters, while the studio was afraid of heading back into Phantom Menace territory.
This interesting news was dug up by Vanity Fair in their big Star Wars cover story, and comes directly from director J.J. Abrams himself. The magazine wrote that George Lucas had provided his ideas for the next trilogy of Star Wars movies, with the focus being on what's described as "very young characters" (LucasFilm says they were teenagers). Unfortunately, it seems this idea gave Disney executives flashbacks to the negative response that Jake Lloyd's performance received for Episode I, so moves were made to change things up. Asked for comment about Lucas' original Episode VII ideas, LucasFilm President and Force Awakens producer Kathleen Kennedy said,
We’ve made some departures - exactly the way you would in any development process.
Instead of focusing on young teens, Star Wars: The Force Awakens instead seems to be centered on a pair of 23-year-olds (Daisy Ridley's Rey and John Boyega's Finn) as well as a 35 year-old (Oscar Isacc's Poe Dameron). Those ages are much more in line with those of the principal cast in the first Star Wars, which included a 26 year old Mark Hamill, a 35-year-old Harrison Ford, and a 21-year-old Carrie Fisher.
While George Lucas' ideas for Star Wars: Episode VII were put aside for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a big part of me thinks that this can't be the last we've heard of those concepts. They may never actually be adapted into in-canon feature films, but perhaps they could get adapted in another way, or possibly published. The point is, there is likely a lot of money to be made from revealing Lucas' original plans for the third trilogy of Star Wars, and I don't think that Disney and LucasFilm are just going to sit on them.
Of course, once those ideas do get out, it will be even more interesting to see how they compare to the direction in which J.J. Abrams and his crew ultimately decided to go. Kathleen Kennedy's quote on the matter sounds pretty political, but maybe there actually will be certain beats from Lucas' sketches that made their way into Abrams' movie. We'll just have to wait and see how it all shakes out.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be out in theaters on December 17th.